Happy birthday, Esther Afua Ocloo! The self-made business woman from Ghana would have been 98 today, April 18, so Google is celebrating her birthday with a Google Doodle. Need to know more about Esther? Here are 5 key facts to remember about the pioneer of microlending!
1. She was one of the founders of Women’s World Banking.
Esther Afua Ocloo helped co-found Women’s World Banking in 1979. The non-profit organization provides low-income women with small loans to start or help their business. She served as the first chairman of the Board of Directors of Women’s World Banking from 1979 to 1985. The organization is still around today, and Esther is considered a pioneer for microlending and a hero for helping get low-income women the money they need for their business endeavors when banks refused.
2. She was the first person start a formal food processing business in the Gold Coast.
Esther made money by selling marmalade and orange juice in the Gold Coast. She wanted to expand production but needed a loan, which was challenging for women in the late 1940s. She eventually secured a loan and traveled to England to learn the latest in food processing.
3. She liked to be called “Auntie Ocloo.”
Esther always wore bright and vibrant African clothes and loved to cook traditional meals, according to The New York Times. She loved to be known as “Auntie Ocloo.” She would often start meetings with bankers and other powerful people with a prayer and end them with a song.
4. Her main goal in life was to help women.
Esther was all about empowering women, even if they ended up competing against her in business endeavors. ”My main goal is to help my fellow women,” she is quoted as once saying, according her New York Times obituary. “If they make better marmalade than me, I deserve the competition.”
5. She was the first black person to graduate from the Good Housekeeping Institute in London.
Esther got the loan she needed to visit England from 1949 to 1951 for further her entrepreneurial goals. She became the first black person to get a cooking diploma from the Good Housekeeping Institute in London. Esther was one of the most powerful women of her day, and she didn’t let anything stand in her way.
HollywoodLifers, did you already know who Esther was before the Google Doodle? Let us know!